Eco-Celeb: Matt Damon

February 17, 2009

 

I have to admit I have a small weakness for Matt Damon. Maybe it's his general charisma, his boyish good looks, his humility or his obvious dedication to his family. And then it could be his constant and continued humanitarian efforts. In between making blockbuster films and being photographed on the red carpet, People magazine's 2007 Sexiest Man Alive spends his time helping others.

As one of the founders of Not On Our Watch along with Ocean's Eleven costars Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Don Cheadle, he helps bring awareness to protect the vulnerable and displaced worldwide by providing assistance to ravaged areas such as Darfur and Burma.  He's a board member of Green Dimes a nonprofit organization that has so far been responsible for stopping over 13 million pounds of junk mail in an effort to help the environment. He also supports One X One, established to improve the lives of children in Canada, the United States and around the world and can often be found hosting charity events for the organization.

But the cause closest to his heart is his own H2O Africa Foundation, which he co-founded to help raise awareness of the water crisis in Africa. The mission of the organization is to tackle worldwide poverty head on by making the general population conscious of the dire situation. It all started when Damon heard about three men who wanted to be the first humans to run coast to coast across the Sahara desert – a 4000-mile journey – to raise awareness about the water problems their country was facing. Their expedition became the subject of his documentary film, Running The Sahara. At the same time the H2O Africa Foundation was created to help the film crew leave a lasting legacy on the people living along the route where the documentary was filmed. As executive producer and narrator, Damon hopes it will introduce the world to an Africa they've never seen before.

But even though the documentary is finished, the ambitious actor has just gotten started. With over 1.2 billion people around the world who don't have access to clean water, Damon knows the work is just beginning. And building awareness is the first step in solving the crisis. Since then he's traveled to Haiti with Wyclef Jean to distribute food and clean water to the homeless and hungry after Hurricane Ike produced devastating flash floods. He's also used his fame to appear in charity events and targeted initiatives to bring attention to his foundation and the situation in general. So follow his lead and help make a difference. Whether it's by donating to any of the causes I've mentioned above or helping out in another way, remember that change happens one person at a time.